Mercenaries and SA business

2004-04-17 13:40

A SOUTH African security company is attempting to explain away the recent arrest of 64 mercenaries by claiming they were not on their way to Equatorial Guinea to assist with a coup, but on their way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to provide security at mines. This begs many questions.

There are countless United Nations reports implicating South African mining companies, especially in diamond mining, in underhand activities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the DRC and Angola.

Cecil John Rhodes used a band of mercenaries gathered from the drinking holes of Johannesburg to invade Mashonaland in 1886-87. They became known as the "pioneer column". Not long after establishing a base in what is now Harare, this same band of rogues attacked Lobengula at Bulawayo and stole 92 000 head of cattle from the Ndebele. Each mercenary was rewarded with as much land as could be pegged out in a day's horse ride.

By 1896 the same band of mercenaries was used to crush the Shona uprising of 1896-97. Mercenary activities in what is now Zimbabwe concluded with the invasion of the Transvaal Republic. It's interesting how many of the descendants of Rhodes now complain when black middle-class nationalists want to mix politics with business. Rhodes was a prime minister of the Cape Colony who happily passed laws to benefit his private business interests. Given our history of mercenary intervention in Zimbabwe, I would not be surprised if South African corporations are sponsoring mercenaries to depose Mugabe .    The DRC should be worried that elements of South African security companies are flying into the DRC as mine security staff. I am aware of plenty of mine security operations in Tanzania as well. They were concentrated on the DRC borders at the height of the conflict there.

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